Ant-Man – Don’t Call The Exterminator

 

heroes

Summer time and super hero movies go hand in hand. This summer you are going to want to reach out and grab Ant-Man’s hand or whatever you can find to hang onto when Marvel’s tiniest super hero crawls onto the big screen today. Funny man, Paul Rudd, who was part of the screen writing team, proves he can still bring the laughs and kick some serious super hero butt at the same time. I wasn’t so sure how the This Is 40 star was going to pull off this role, but he did and proves he’s got what it takes to wear the Ant-Man suit.

Rudd introduced the film at The Regal Theater in New York City on Thursday night. As I’d hoped, he was funny, charming, handsome and fit as ever. The shrinking Super Hero says he basically didn’t eat for a year in order to fit into the Ant Man costume.

Paul Rudd talks "Ant Man" photo by Adam Cohen @dadarocks

Paul Rudd talks “Ant-Man”
photo by Adam Cohen @dadarocks

He answered a few questions about the film. But not before he shook hands with a couple who’d just arrived late and walked right in front of where he was standing to take their seats. Rudd assured them they didn’t miss a thing and any number of Moms in the audience could share their video clips they’d captured on their iPhones.

Corbin loved the film and so did I. If you’ve ever owned a Thomas the Train set, you’ll get a kick out of one of the films best scenes between Ant-Man and Yellow Jacket played by House of Cards star Corey Stoll. The two battle it out in “real insect” size on a moving train set. Corbin laughed his head off watching some of his old time favorite cars whiz thru the air as the super hero insects battled to save/destroy the human race as we know it.

Word of caution here – not long into the movie someone gets called a pussy! As you might suspect, a theater full of kids quickly picked up on it. Corbin said, “Did he just call him a pussy?”. Actually, just about every kid in the audience said the exact same thing at the same time! I remember the first spoken work in Avengers: Age of Ultron was “shit” which garnered the same response from Corbin. Both films are rated PG-13 so keep this in mind.

Ant-Man will not be nominated for an Oscar – shocker I realize – even with heavy weight Michael Douglas in the cast. The movie was entertaining, funny and even pokes fun at the other super hero team, the Avengers, which I found to be hilarious. Corbin was worried he’d feel like ants were crawling all over him while sitting in the dark watching the film. Instead, he laughed more than he scratched at bug bites that didn’t exist. Make sure to stay for the credits and watch the extra scenes in the credits.

I was on assignment with @luxurytravelmom. Corbin and I enjoyed some free popcorn and a coke. The opinions are my own. I liked the film. If I didn’t, I’d tell you to keep your money and get a mani/pedi because that’s how I roll.

Antarctica – The White Continent

 When you ask someone how many continents they have visited, you might suspect that Antarctica would be missing from their list.  Luckily for me, it is not missing. Australia, yes. But,  Antarctica?  Check!  Been there, saw it and have a tv episode to prove it! Watch as I chill with the penguins and dance on the ice!   It was truly a trip of a lifetime that I will never forget!

I spent my time on board the Orion with many well traveled members of Exclusive Resorts.  By the end of the journey we’d all become better acquainted with each other as you’d expect after spending nearly two weeks together!  I even met Scott Forstall, former Apple executive, turned Tony award winning Broadway producer of Fun Home.  Forstall is spending his post-Apple time traveling the world, producing shows and helping the authorities crack down on the on-line sex trade when he’s not at dance lessons with his kids back in California.

If you want to see Antarctica be prepared to drop a lot of Benjamin’s as it is not an inexpensive journey to the bottom of the planet. But I promise you, it is well worth every single penny spent!  You’ll go for the penguins, whales and seals but you’ll want to book your return trip to see the ice!

Costa Rica and the Pura Vida

squarebird

According to the calendar, Spring is approaching!  Thank God!  This has been a tough winter to say the least.  In December, I headed down to Costa Rica to shoot this Meet Me There episode with my crew from Denver and Los Angeles.  It was fast and furious and we covered more ground and went on more eco-adventure excursions that I can really recommend in such a short amount of time!  You can catch the action in the episode below.  I’d love for you to like, share, and subscribe to the episodes on Exclusive Resorts You Tube page in this link.  Enjoy the show!

Hawaii Reset

I consider myself a travel addict.

“Hi, my name is DJ. My last trip was 7 days ago.”

I have laid my eyes on many stunning places over the years. And probably like you, I’ve snapped endless photos of sunsets, a few sunrises, buildings, cathedrals and castles along the way. To anyone other than me, these photos produced a lot of yawns and some moments of radio silence. In one word were are BORING! But as an “addict”, I can’t stop snapping pictures. So my subjects over the years have changed moving away from things to people. Primarily MY people like Corbin, Leo and my family and friends. And of course myself. Hello, Selfie!

In June, I spent 7 glorious days in Hawaii. It was my first visit to the Big Island and it will not be my last. My one and only goal for this trip was to do whatever was necessary to hit my reset button. So instead of vacation days full of sight seeing, shopping and eating. My vacation plan consisted of the following.

1. Sleep

2. Eat

3. Chill out – without worrying about Corbin’s schedule, talking to lawyers, discussing the future,         over eating, blowouts, makeup, dry cleaning, bikini waxes, recycling the trash, grocery store lists, appointments, etc. This proved to be challenging until #5 kicked in. Keep reading!

4. Exercise

5. Enjoy an adult beverage

6. Repeat all of the above as needed

I stuck to my plan and can say that for the first time in a very long time I finally felt as if I had a solid amount of sleep! And of course along the way, I started snapping photos on my iPhone. By the way, do any of you travel with a real camera anymore? I haven’t in years but pulled it on on my recent trip to Antarctica with Exclusive Resorts. I snapped a great shot of the sunrise on my first morning because I woke up at my normal East coast time which is six hours ahead of Hawaii. I’m NOT a fan of sunrises! I captured many sunset photos, too! All very pretty, but yet still BORING!

On my last day, I took what I can only say are two of my favorite travel photos yet.

One is of this fisherman I met at a local market, Da Fish House.

The Catch of the Day

The Catch of the Day

He was getting out of his little Toyota truck as I was walked up. Why do big, giant men drive tiny trucks? Always makes me laugh when I see this. He spoke in a Hawaiian language that my Exclusive Resorts concierge Lahela told me was more of a local dialect. If you look closely you can see that his eyes are kind of gold in color. And then there are the tattoos and the fists full of yellow fin tuna. I could not stop checking this guy out. He was a site to behold. I kept trying to calculate how many dollars worth of sushi he was holding in his hands. Not to mention the shear size of this guy! Check out those man boobs! He and his friends had been fishing about 10 miles off the coast all night and were delivering the load of fish to the market.

A picture is worth a thousand words. This one is for sure. I only wish I would have put a mic on him (not sure what I would have clipped it to) and gotten his story on camera for our Meet Me There – Kohala Coast episode ! Guess that means, I should just go back,right? I mean, it is time for another trip. I’ve been home for seven days as I mentioned above. That’s long enough, don’t you think?

Oh, so you want to see my second photo?  Here it is.

Hawaii cloud video in Kahalo

Wow. Just Wow.

My friend Hadley and I were walking over for our last island cocktails and dinner when I snapped this one. I think I spiffed it up with a filter on my iPhone but it didn’t need a lot of editing. Mother Nature never does really. This one is all about the clouds and is not BORING in the least.

Feel free to share some of your favorite travel photos from Hawaii below if you’d like. I’d love to see them!

Grand Cayman – Meet Me There

smallfishGrand Cayman is a destination I have returned to many times.  It’s a beautiful place for starters. It’s super easy to get to from New York City on a direct flight on Jet Blue out of JFK.  The sting rays, star fish, sea turtles, sunscreen, sand, sunsets, 7 Mile Beach and star gazing are the things that always take me back to the island in the Caribbean.  This trip is brought to you by the letter ‘S’ it seems!  Check out the Meet Me There episode with me and Corbin!

 

Real Del Mar and a New Start

smallfishTraveling to a new destination is always a thrill. I’ve made several repeat visits to a lot of places over the last 10 years. I’m never bored in the places I return to again and again. Often times, I relish the thought of returning to some of my favorite spots – hello, 11th Moon in Laguna Beach! But it is always good to shake things up a bit and explore new territory. That is precisely what happened on my trip to Real Del Mar, Mexico.

Technically, it was a work trip—my first shoot for the Meet Me There series. But it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was reeling from my father’s recent death. My whole world had been turned on its head. When I traveled to Real del Mar, I was just coming off of my Dad’s funeral the week before. Some alone time on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, even with some work thrown in, was just what I needed. In fact, I’d never needed it more.

I was excited for this first shoot, and a little nervous. As the first one to arrive at the house, I had the views all to myself, and I settled into a lounge chair by the infinity pool and took full advantage of the solitude. It felt nice. Really nice.

Real Del Mar view

View to a Chill

I couldn’t help but think about my Dad and the trips he’d taken with me over the last 8 years. He would have LOVED Real Del Mar. Dad was the kinda guy who liked to sip on a cocktail and “shoot the breeze” about everything from his latest building projects to his new favorite recipe. We had done just that very thing on every trip we’d taken together. Dad was thrilled about the Meet Me There series and knew how excited I was about the project, too. It broke my heart to think he wouldn’t get to see any of it come together.

Surf’s Up

But as soon as my feet hit the ground the next morning, the team and I were off and running on an unforgettable Mexican adventure. It was my first time in Real Del Mar, so I signed myself up for some other firsts—like surfing!

I confess—I am not a huge fan of water activities. Sure, I like to swim in the pool and hang out at the beach, but you’ll never catch me clambering for a boogie board or spending hours playing volleyball in the pool. I’m a leisurely, poolside kind of gal! The water is a side attraction, not the main event.

But I’d recently made a list of my personal 10 Commandments—at the top of the list is a promise that I will take the leap, every time—no matter what. I couldn’t break my own Commandment.

Hangin' 10 and a few fingers

Hangin’ 10 and a few fingers

Nothing motivates you to get up on a surfboard like a video crew “audience” on the shoreline and a photographer floating next to you a camera up your ass, it really motivates you to get up on that surfboard. I knew I had to deliver…something…or I’d have brought us all out here for nothing. So I went for it and found myself surfing! In the Pacific Ocean! On my very first attempt to stand up. Mission accomplished! And I looked amazing (thanks to Henry, a whiz with the camera!) I never dreamed I could do it. Sadly, my honors performance on the surfboard really cut down on the number of water-soaked, four-letter rants for the blooper reel. Sorry kids!

Mingling with the Gypset

I’ve met a lot of characters while traveling, but I had my first real encounter with a gypsy in Sayulita. But Natalie is not just a gypsy—she’s part of the Gypset. What the heck is a Gypset? According to Urban Dictionary:

Gypset
…Fusing the ease and carefree lifestyle of a gypsy with the sophistication of the jet set, Gypsetters are artists, surfers, designers, and bon vivants who live and work around the globe, from Jose Ignacio, Uruguay and Ibiza, Spain, to Montauk, New York. Gypset Style explores the unconventional, wanderlust lives of these high-low cultural nomads and the bohemian enclaves they inhabit, as well as their counterculture forbears, such as the Victorian explorers, the Lost Generation, the Beatniks, and the hippies.

Natalie is a gypset lifestyle guru and the eccentric owner at Pachamama, an amazing little shop and gallery. As soon as I stepped into her store, I was totally mesmerized. I couldn’t stop touching things, like the black tahitian pearl jewelry strung on leather cords and the handmade, locally designed bags. I played dress-up in a hand-embroidered dress that ended up coming home with me. I also snagged some amazing gold spiral earrings! I haven’t decided if I’m going to wear the dress or hang it on the wall. It is simply stunning and so colorful!

photo 5

Natalie was dressed like a gypsy goddess. Not too many women can pull off a look that includes no shoes, a slinky slip dress, face paint, and an enormous feather in the hair, but she did just that.

The Essentials

When I think of Mexico, my monkey brain immediately goes to tacos and tequila. Mama Lucia tequila factory was an essential stop on our trip. We took a tour and did a little tasting. Well, maybe more than a little. But the tequila did not disappoint.

Mama Lucia tequila

Triple Threat at Mama Lucia

You can’t drink tequila without a toast. So with each shot, we did a different toast. I had to stop somewhere after four or five “toasts”. After all, I was working, and the fear of an embarrassing blooper reel surfacing still loomed large in my head. So when you see me swirling around in the episode with a shot of tequila in my hand, I’m not drunk! That was all part of one of our hula/shake-your-money-maker/throw-back-a-shot-of-tequila toasts! I promise.

Tequila tasting

Bottoms up!

The food in and around Real Del Mar was yummy. I’d spent the previous week in Arkansas with my family, eating more than my fair share of Southern comfort food. I was reluctant to overindulge on food while on the shoot—I had a swimsuit to wear, after all, and the camera doesn’t lie!

But when I arrived at Tacos on the Street, my dreams of moderation went straight out the window. The restaurant delivers exactly what the name suggests – Tacos on the Street. The food was fresh and the flavors melded together brilliantly. The tacos were so good, I ordered seconds and ate every last bit.

Tacos on my plate!

Tacos on my plate!

After two weeks in shock, a trip to Real del Mar was exactly what the doctor ordered. It was relaxing, invigorating, and never, ever boring. I learned a few new tricks and got way out of my comfort zone…and liked it. I’d go back in a second. But next time, I’ll work on my surfing and indulge in a few stiff margaritas and a few plates of tacos. But this time, I’ll leave my cameraman behind. My adventures—and my bloopers!—will be mine alone.

That's a wrap on Real Del Mar

That’s a wrap –  with my camera man Henry!

Living the Dream in New York City

Living the Dream

When I was anchoring the morning news cast at KTAL-TV in Shreveport, Louisiana, my dream was to move to New York City and take over for Katie Couric. I thought I’d look fantastic alongside Matt and Al. (Some days, I still think that!) But sometimes life takes you on the scenic route. That’s what happened to me.  Fast forward—A few years later, I was no longer in television news.  I was married and soon after nursing a baby and changing diapers. Fast forward to now…

sheep's meadow in Central Park

All Smiles from the Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park

I am living in New York City and loving every minute of it. So half of my dream came true. But Katie, you can sleep easy. I’m no longer gunning for your job! So how did I get here? I would have never in a million years thought that my repeat vacation destination would later become my home town, thanks in part to our Exclusive Resorts Concierge in New York.

From Arkansas to the Apple

One day, at our home in Jonesboro, Arkansas, my husband and I had a serious discussion about moving to New York City. It went like this:

“DJ, what do you think about moving to New York City?”, said Mark.

“I’ll be ready in five minutes!”, DJ exclaimed.

It was one of the most decisive conversations we’d ever had.

We’d lived the majority of our lives in Arkansas, but from the first Exclusive Resorts trip to Manhattan, we were in love with the Big Apple. There wasn’t just one thing about the city that drew us here. There were a lot of different things. From the people and food, to the museums and lights of Broadway, the city captivated us in a way like no other city in the country.

After a few weekend getaways, we found ourselves scouting out apartments instead of sightseeing. Our ER concierge encouraged our curiosity. On her days off, she would go to real estate open houses and then call us with the scoop.(Talk about service that goes above and beyond!)

“It was awful. Total fixer-upper.”

“Those on-line photos have been photoshopped to death”

“It was AMAZING, D.J., you’d love the kitchen! But it’s under contract.”

It was a process. But finally, we found the right place for the whole family. We moved on August 10, 2010, and it was a day I will never forget. We walked into our beautiful new apartment on the Upper West Side with just a few suitcases and Leo, our dachshund.

living room

My Living Room featured in Lonny October 2011

I knew I was no longer just a visitor in New York City. There would not be a car waiting to pick me up in a few days to catch a return flight to Arkansas. Or a packed schedule of things to see and do. All I had to do was put down my bags, kick off my shoes and exhale! I was home and I was over the moon excited about this new chapter in our lives.

Settling In

When we moved, I knew New York pretty well—for a visitor. But as you can probably imagine, living in New York City is a totally different experience. I moved from Jonesboro, Arkansas, a town of roughly 60,000 people, to one of the largest cities in the world in a matter of hours. Everything was different. You can’t just zip across town to the grocery store and park your car in the lot. I learned to love the subway, which is hands down the fastest and easiest way to get around NYC, other than walking!

All-weather gear was not anything I spent much time worrying about before I moved. Proper outwear is essential every day of the year in New York. It is a walking city and you need to be dressed appropriately all the time. Rain, sleet, snow or sun, I don’t want to be stuck in midtown without the proper gear in the event of a downpour or a blizzard in January. Or caught in the sweltering heat of July without my sunglasses and a hat! Without the sanctuary of a car to duck into, it’s just me and the elements most days. Although a taxi or the subway isn’t usually too far away.

Full Contact Shopping

About that grocery store, and shopping in general? It’s not easy to trek four blocks from the grocery store with heavy bags in tow! I learned to shop for a few days at a time so I could carry the bags home—or better yet, have them delivered. I can even order groceries on-line and have them delivered….all from the comfort of my bed! Grocery delivery definitely comes in handy when snow is piled high on the side walks and the temperature drops below freezing.

Maneuvering in a Manhattan grocery store is like living in a bad video game. The aisles are tiny and so are the grocery carts. The energy in my local store, Fairway, is similar at times to what you’d feel at a boxing match. You can feel the anticipation of someone about to take out a shopper with a one-two punch at any given moment, for no reason other than they aren’t moving fast enough!

School Next Door—And Everywhere

Some things are more convenient in New York than they were in Jonesboro. Corbin started kindergarten in the public school right next door to our apartment – no morning commute for us. In Jonesboro, I’d have to get Corbin in his car seat and make the drive across town to his school every day. But now it was just a short three-minute walk to the front of the school! Reading, writing, and arithmetic just steps away from home.

Corbin at Bronx Zoo

Corbin and the Hairy Creature at the Zoo

And let’s talk about the field trips! Corbin and his class have visited the Central Park Zoo, the Bronx Zoo, the Natural History Museum, and Ellis Island. He even has an upcoming trip to Washington, D.C., and a trip to London in his elementary school future. Growing up in Carlisle, Arkansas, I remember one time we checked out a local dairy farm and once even made a trip to the state capitol and the Little Rock Zoo! New York City itself is a classroom for Corbin and the rest of us, too.

Do Not Enter

What’s not part of my New York Experience? Two words: Times Square. Sure, I’ve done the touristy things in the city, and still do on occasion. But I only venture into Times Square if I’m on the losing end of a bet with Corbin and have to take him to the indoor Ferris wheel at Toys R Us to settle up. Other than that? Forget it. Even if I have theater tickets I’ll sidestep the whole area to avoid the chaos. (We did shoot ONE scene of the NYC episode of “Meet Me There” in Times Square. It was NUTS, even more so than usual. After we wrapped the episode, we found out that there had been a crash involving some tour busses a block away from where we were shooting!)

DJ in front of Juniors in Times Square

Escaping the Times Square Bus Crash Insanity

It’s been four years since we moved to New York City but it feels like I’ve been here much longer. I may be Southern by the grace of God, but I’m a big city girl at heart. As for the other half of my dream? I’m living it right now with Exclusive Resorts, getting to create “Meet Me There.” Sharing my adventures with you and introducing you to new people and places is also something my 22-year-old self would have never thought possible! See, dreams do come true, and sometimes turn out even better than you expected.